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18 putting tips from Philip H Gazeley

Philip H GazeleyPhilip H Gazeley is a professional putting coach who has worked extensively with over 100 members of the European Tour. Initially looking at the full swing, he gradually focussed more and more on putting and has developed several simple, innovative putting aids

At the heart of his teaching is the need to set up squarely and consistently to the ball, and one of his recent product innovations is the 2Thumb putter grip (click here for Golf Today's review of this product) to help players achieve this. His teaching is easy to grasp and simple to apply, like these 18 tips to better putting.

Tip No. 1
Putting is around half of your golfing score, but how often do you practice your stroke, or alignment, change your grip, or even have a putting lesson? Yes, that’s right - a lesson! Never thought of it? In that case, "Take a lesson" is probably the best tip I could give you, so follow this step by step, complete breakdown on how to putt - from grip to posture, to eye alignment, to stance and stroke, and I hope this will help you to become a better putter.

Tip No. 2
One of the most important factors in golf is the ball position. Don’t forget it is the back of the ball that you are stroking with the putter, and not the centre. I always teach that the back of the ball is in the middle of your stance, or slightly forward of this, if you are using a square-to-square stroke.

Tip No. 3
Gripping the putter can be done in so many ways, but it is important not to have a dominant hand, as you are looking for a relaxed combination of shoulders, arm and hands for a smooth stroke.

Tip No. 4
I like to see the putter relaxed in your hand - it is necessary to control the putter head, as it can weigh as much as half a kilo. It is important to lock the grip in your hands with the soft thumb pad in both hands, and the forefinger on your left - this will help to stop the putter from twisting off line, plus curling the right hand forefinger underneath the shaft (not down).

Tip No. 5
The Grip:
 - With the putter straight out in front of you, grip the putter in a two-handed baseball position;
 - Now let the forefinger on your left hand point down the shaft; Pull the right hand up the grip until it comfortably meets the left hand;
 - Now rest the left hand forefinger over the fingers on your right hand, neither hand is dominant and the shoulders are now near square to your hips and feet when you are in a putting position - aren't they?

Tip No.6
Now you have gripped the putter correctly, it is important to realise that the length of the shaft is the predominant factor in getting your eyes directly over the ball, as this is important for getting a consistence in reading the putting line from ball to hole, or target point. This line is always the same, whether 3 ft or 30 ft long.

Tip No. 7
To grip your putter at the right length:
 - Address a golf ball in your normal putting position;
 - Now have a friend plumb bob the line from your eyes to the ball;
 - With a relaxed grip move yourself backward or forward until you have a perfect vertical position from eye line to ball;
 - Re-grip, whenever your hands are holding the putter grip;
 - Mark the position and use it in future putts. Your eyes will now consistently be over the ball.

Tip No. 8
Having previously worked on grip and ball positions, it is as important to get your stance correct. Your feet should feel comfortably apart, never too narrow, and your weight should be biased towards your toes - not as most people tend to address the ball with the weight on their heels.

Tip No. 9
The top half of your body should be towards a horizontal position, ie your shoulders, neck and back of your head. If you are standing too upright, there is a tendency to direct the weight of your body towards your heels. You should be looking straight down over the ball and through the centre of your eye and not out of the lower part of the eye.

Tip No. 10
Whilst it is important to get your upper body and balance position correct, one of the most crucial parts of your putting stroke is to understand is the positioning of the legs - actually your knees. Make a putting stroke and see what happens. Move did they? Why?

Tip No. 11
The easiest way to stop your lower body moving during your putting stroke is to make yourself knock-kneed. This will automatically put your weight onto the inside of the sole of your shoes. Now, if you make a stroke you will see that the lower body, legs and knees stay still. Try putting a toilet roll between your knees and practice your stroke. Positive stroke isn’t it? And no lower movement!

Tip No. 12
In the previous tips, (1-11) we have looked at all the basics of putting, stance, grip, eye-line, body movement etc, and now I would like to look at creating the perfect stroke. But before that, a question: How hard do you hit the ball? Answer: Never! - You don’t!

Tip No. 13
You never, ever hit at the ball! You stroke through it. Try putting as normal, probably with a half distance back the same distance through. Did the ball jump and move off line? - and when it slowed, did it take the break quickly? If the ball is hit with a sharp hammer type stroke, the first few inches of the ball’s movement will be airborne.

Tip No. 14
Try putting with a quarter distance back stroke and a longer three-quarter distance follow through. This will lead to greater acceleration. Now you will find that the ball gets to roll much quicker than before - it stays straighter longer and fights against taking the break (if there is one).

Tip No. 15
Next time you practice putting try this:
 - With your normal golf ball, make a thin line circumnavigating it;
 - Now place the ball on the ground with the line vertical;
 - In your normal stance, try stroking through the ball, not at it. Bearing in mind that the ball only rolls on about a half inch wide band, watch this until it comes to a stop. Did it stay upright longer? I think so!

Tip No. 16
If you really want to perfect your through stroke, try putting in a normal position, but with your eyes closed. Think you will miss the ball? I very much doubt it, but what you will find is that if you watch the ball roll after the stroke has finished, you will see the ball rolls perfectly straight - why? You stroked through it and not at it, because your eyes were closed you never knew when to hit and only created a putting stroke.

Tip No. 17
Only one degree of face variation (open/closing) will miss a 12 ft putt, so it is critical not to over accentuate. Remember, stroke through it - not hit at it.

Tip No. 18
If you watch your playing partners or pros on TV, see what happens. First the back stroke, then the through the ball stroke and then their finish. Yes - what about the finish? Normally the club head recoils. Try having a practice putting stroke where the finish is held still. This will give you a different feel - more positive - I’m in control!!

You can find out more about Philip Gazeley's teaching, putting aids and write to him about your putting problems on his website


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